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Athletes wait and work out


April 17, 2020

Pine Knot News file photos

Cloquet High School's Jordan Allen is running by himself these days as he awaits word on the fate of his final track season this spring. He qualified for state last season.

The great mystery of when sports will start again has athletes all over the state and country trying to weigh their options. With the shutdown in full swing and sports on hold, it is up to each individual athlete to find ways to fill the time and try to continue to focus on a spring sports season that may never come. In an effort to continue our series on the effects of COVID-19 on the sports scene, the Pine Knot News took a moment to talk with two top athletes from Cloquet High School: Sam Baker, a golfer; and Jordan Allen, a runner. Both are among the best at what they do.

Baker helped lead his Cloquet/Esko/Carlton boys golf team to a third-place finish in the 2019 Minnesota State High School Class AA tournament and was hoping for more of the same this spring as a junior.

"The good news is as of right now I couldn't be getting much more work done than what I'm doing on my own. With the snow we've had on the ground, the country club wouldn't be open either way," Baker said. "If we didn't have the shut down, the only place I'd be hitting the golf ball is at home right now."

Allen has been a runner on the Cloquet varsity track team since his sophomore year and he can still get out and put in the mileage necessary to be ready in case things change.

"Lately I've been trying to run more volume than I would if we were competing," Allen said. "I am trying to follow my coach's advice and training as best I can without being able to get on our track."

The mental aspect of not knowing what the future holds can be tough on athletes and both are coping in their own ways.

"It's hard not knowing that our season might be canceled and the fact that I will be missing a year of my high school golf that I can't get back definitely is tough," Baker said.

For Allen the situation takes on more urgency since this is his senior year.

"All I am really doing is acting like everything is still on," he said. "I believe that the best thing I and every other runner can do is hold out hope for our season."

Allen ran his fastest times in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs last year at the sectional meet, and qualified for state in the 3200. "Right now I am transitioning into some more race-specific training," he said. "I know that some of my competition can't or are not training right now and I plan to take advantage of that."

Baker is also seeking an advantage. "I can still hit balls at home because I have my own simulator that allows me to go on the driving range, play courses, work on my yardages and do a bunch of little mini games," he said.

Both athletes said it is tough not being able to practice with teammates.

Allen has some special incentive to get out there as soon as possible. He is planning to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs after graduation.

"Either way I will have to run a few time trials or races by myself in order to run the walk-on times that the (academy's) cross country and track team requires," Allen said. "If I don't make that team, I will probably join the school's marathon team."


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